No Penalty for E-Stopping

Okay, so every year we get a new rulebook, and it’s very easy to see the new additions, but sometimes omissions can slip under the radar. Apparently, I’ve had an omission slip under my radar for 7 years and I’d just now like to say it’s a good change.

Back in the 2012 rulebook rule G35 stated:

If a Robot becomes unsafe (e.g. the Robot begins to smoke, the battery falls out, etc.) it may be disabled for the remainder of the Match by any player by pressing the E-Stop button. The E-Stop buttons are intended for remote shutdown in the event of safety hazards and will not otherwise affect Match score or duration.
Violation: Technical-Foul if used for any other reason.

The thing that I really didn’t like about this rule was the violation. I had at least one case back in 2014 that I remember where I considered e-stopping, and paused because I didn’t want a penalty (still thinking this rule was active). We ended up not needing to e-stop and everything worked out, but this is unsafe behavior, I shouldn’t be worrying about penalties if safety is on the line.

I just checked the game manuals since then and didn’t see any mention of this rule, so I think I’m just very behind the times. So anyway, good call GDC taking this violation out of the rulebook, and maybe there’s someone else like me out there that might have thought this was still active that this post helps. :slight_smile:


Part of the reason for it’s existence in that game in particular was a team what wanted to disable their robot early on the ramp, not because of unsafe behavior. I don’t ever remember it being a violation before 2012 either.

It is in the 2010 and 2011 manuals as well, and I believe 2010 was the first year of the e-stop.

E-stop has a very interesting past, going WAY back to 2001 or before. In 2002 (through about 2005?) there was a segment noting that it wouldn’t affect match duration and was only for emergency shutdowns.

To tell you the truth, I didn’t know there was an e-stop abuse foul back then!
I seem to recall a fair number of posts in the last few years on the topic of e-stopping an alliance partner that was not objectively dangerous, but was committing fouls. Under the 2012 rules that would result in a tech foul.

I’m having a hard time finding any specific rule concerning this sort of behavior in the 2019 manual. C8 refers to harming opponent alliances specifically. H4 seems to be intended to prevent recruiting “ringers”, but may extend to TEAM 1 hitting TEAM 2’s e-stop.

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in 2013 we went to Estop our robot because it was violently spinning in circles and we couldn’t stop it any other way. We hit the Estop and it still kept spinning in circles…


We had a situation in 2014 where we were playing defense, and our robot’s drive-train broke with the other alliances ball trapped between us and the corner near the low goal. Trapping the other alliances ball or shutting down gameplay was a penalty, but we didn’t know how to convey to the refs that our robot was broken, so we hit the E-stop. Probably not the best decision, as to the ref it could be perceived as intentional, so she had to call it that way. I believe we were (rightly) carded that match.

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The 2002 manual probably specifically calls out e-stop as not affecting match duration because in 2001, it did affect match duration (as that was one of the main scoring mechanics of Diabolical Dynamics).

I don’t recall which game or situation it applied to, but there was a time when e-stopping your robot at a strategically opportune time could create a positive outcome for you. That’s probably when the rule showed up.

In some FLL games there was a similar rule. In general, there is no rule prohibiting FLL drivers from removing their robots from the field - except they usually generate some kind of point penalty, and must go back to base to restart. But in some games, when completing the mission required stopping at a specific spot and going no further, there was a rule that I called the “strategic snatch” rule - if you grabbed your robot at the exact moment when the mission was complete, you wouldn’t get credit for that mission.

2011 was the first year of the rule - a hasty fix to a game design flaw where the field could be blockaded by robots who E-stopped. It has led to more than a few red cards where refs red carded teams who were disabling their robots for good reasons, but refs did not fully understand the unsafe condition.

Anything that makes anyone hesitate to hit an E-Stop button makes FRC less safe. I hope the violation punishment stays gone forever.


To the best of my recollection, an e-stopped robot could not collect penalties in older games. So strategic e-stopping could be useful. Current game rules do not stop e-stopped robots for collecting penalties so there is no need for a rule only e-stopping when needed for safety.


That’s interesting because this year also felt like it could have the same problem. A strategic disable near a rocket/cargo ship lane could really screw up the other teams scoring. I wonder if it would have been a point of contention if they added that rule back in this year

I don’t see how E-stopping your robot next to the rocket is any better than just parking there and not touching the joysticks. And then you can move away for the endgame or if your strategy changes.

^^ This is the key point. In recent years, e-stopped (and even referee-disabled) robots have not been immune from foul points due to their parking or contacting opposing robots in “forbidden territory” or other illegal actions. This eliminates the vast majority of strategic benefits to e-stopping over just taking hands off of the controls.

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